The fire broke out as Dallas-based band The Polyphonic Spree’s tour bus pulled into a Houston venue’s parking lot for the first show of its summer tour.
Tim DeLaughter, the band’s frontman, was sleeping on the bus when he was awoken by someone yelling about a fire. He and the remaining members evacuated the bus as its driver extinguished the fire. The culprit was a broken starter.
The band played the Houston show but had to cancel another to fix the bus. When the band finally headed out again, its trailer suffered one blowout and then another.
Even with 14 years of experience traveling, DeLaughter said that was rough. Since that first night, DeLaughter said the band’s luck has improved.
“We had a little strip of bad luck, and then everything’s been fine,” DeLaughter said.
DeLaughter and band, which is composed of about 22 musicians, will be playing Friday at the ACM Performance Lab in Oklahoma City as part of their two-leg, 28-stop, coast-to-coast summer tour.
The Polyphonic’s Spree summer tour is promoting the band’s most recent album, “Yes, It’s True,” as well as a new LP of remixes of all the songs on that album. The remix LP, “Psychphonic,” dropped Tuesday.
Big band, small problems
The Polyphonic Spree is one of the largest bands of its kind, including a choir, a horn section, a harp and a string section. Sometimes touring is difficult, especially trying to fit all the members on stage.
To counteract the problem, DeLaughter said the band brings two large road cases to haul equipment, but that can also be used as stage extenders once they’re unloaded.
When that doesn’t work, they have to improvise. At the July 23 stop in Portland, Ore., the harp, the strings and the horn were playing on a balcony while the rest of the band was on stage below.
Even with all the extra pieces, DeLaughter said he travels better with this band than he has four- or five-piece bands. Plus there’s always somebody new to hang out with.
“It’s good. I mean, you walk around town, and you’re bound to run into somebody in your band. I’m doing it right now,” DeLaughter said, stopping to say hello to one of his band members.
Keeping it light
When DeLaughter sits down to write music for The Polyphonic Spree, it’s all improvisation, from the music to the lyrics.
“I’m pretty much stream of consciousness when I’m writing my lyrics. Then I’ll go back and shape it into where it makes complete sense,” DeLaughter said. “But the main theme is spot on from whatever is going on in my imagination at a particular time.”
After playing music for most of his life with The Polyphonic Spree and his former band Tripping Daisies, as well as owning a record store, DeLaughter said his musical influences are varied. He said he is partial to easy-listening music from the ’60s and ’70s.
“Life can be really rough, man,” DeLaughter said. “So I try to, like, write about the side that kind of keeps me enjoying it, I guess.”